Speaking Truth to Chevron


 descended upon the company’s annual shareholder meeting in San Ramon, California to demand environmental justice and human rights. Participants from as far away as Angola, Ecuador, and Brazil joined with the True Cost of Chevron network (of which I am a part) and some 150 local protesters to decry Chevron’s abuses both around the globe and here in the U.S., from California to Texas to Washington, D.C.

 Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre of Nigeria. A community organizer and women’s rights activist from the Niger Delta, Okon is leading a thriving Nigerian ecofeminist movement. She has coordinated several local women’s networks and coalitions, including Women Against Climate Change (WACC), International Network on Women and Environment, Niger Delta Women for Justice and Niger Delta Women’s Movement. I interviewed Okon shortly after the protests to learn how the women of the U.S. can emulate the women of Nigeria in standing up to one of the world’s most powerful–and dangerous–corporations.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#333333″>For well over 50 years, Chevron has been a dominant oil producer in Nigeria, both on land and offshore, generating riches that have flowed to Chevron. Chevron’s operations in the Niger Delta have economically marginalized local villagers while giving them virtually no control over their own livelihood, land or resources. The people and communities living nearest to the oil have become poorer and more dispirited, and are living shorter lives. I came to California to tell Chevron that it must listen to the women of the Niger Delta and change its operations.

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 gas flaring, exploration and exploitation activities have resulted in pollution of rivers, streams and creeks, making the water unsafe for aquatic life and leading to a loss of fishing income. Chevron spills oil into soil and farmlands, making them unfit for crops. Women, who are the majority of the informal [economic] sector, are negatively impacted as the oil halts their economic activities and increases their poverty.

 have generated various forms of violent conflict in the Niger Delta, including communal clashes, youth armed gangsterism, chieftaincy tussle, political violence, militarism and militarization. These have subjected women to sexual violence, sexual slavery, rape and teenage pregnancy, as well as increasing child motherhood, sex work, HIV infection rates and trauma symptoms.

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 in July 2002. They succeeded in stopping work for 11 days, until Chevron’s management finally agreed to meet their demands. In so doing, Ugborodo women achieved in 11 days what the men could not achieve in decades. Chevron came down to talk with the women, which opened up the space for chiefs, youth leaders and government representatives to engage in the negotiation process.

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 The True Cost of Chevron network has been critical. Our greatest ally is the California-based non-profit Justice In Nigeria Now (JINN), which has led campaigns in the U.S. and mobilized other advocacy groups to support the Niger Delta women. I call on our supporters worldwide to join JINN on their website or their Facebook page.

Antonia Juhasz mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#333333″>is the editor of three mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#333333″>Alternative Annual Reports on Chevron, each of which includes a discussion of Nigeria by Emem Okon. Follow her on Twitter mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#333333″>here. 

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